HARRIS' HEROES

Harris' Heroes: Phoenix Bikes helps kids earn a bike while learning biking skills

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Riding a bike should be part of every child's summer experience, but sadly that's not the case.

Kids are learning skills and earning bikes at Phoenix Bikes. Photo: WJLA

But as ABC7’s Leon Harris reports, Arlington-based Phoenix Bikes is a full-service bike shop with a non-profit mission, giving kids the chance to earn a bike while also teaching them some valuable skills.

“We work on problem solving and how to work on fixing things, to take a bike that's broken … and figure out how to fix it,” says Henry Dunbar, executive director.

They start with the basics, learning bike parts, repairing flats, and checking brakes.

After 25 hours of instruction and volunteering at the shop, each kid gets to pick one of the donated bikes to completely rebuild and take home.

Samara Cathirell, 11, has earned three bikes, so far.

“The first one I traded in for my other road bike I have at home and I built a second one … a 3rd one,” Cathirell says.

Ever Franco, 17, entered the program after running into some legal trouble. He says it helped turn his life around. And he's now a staff mechanic here.

“It has impacted my life a lot because, about the trouble I've been having," Franco says, “This is a way of not getting into trouble.”

The kids also get out on the bikes and learn safe riding skills. And as they pedal along, it's clear they're proud they earned their wheels and enjoy taking them out for a spin anytime.

Dunbar says the problem-solving skills the kids learn here certainly translates to other parts of their lives.

And in seven years of operation, Phoenix Bikes has helped more than 300 local children.

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